Sister Beverly shared that she always had the need and the desire to find meaning and happiness in life, but when she was young, this was sometimes a challenge due to the lingering illness and early death of her mother. With one older sister, Bev learned to care for and service others during this time. Much later, realizing that these are values held throughout her life, she now sees that time as a great but difficult learning experience.
Bev attended public high school in Milwaukee and after graduation and for the next five years, she chose to work at a major manufacturing company in Milwaukee. Enjoying the benefits of much social interaction and meeting different kinds of people in the various departments, Bev also played on the company basketball and softball teams, seeking relationships besides her father and sister. Bev shared a keen sense of humor with her coworkers and occasionally with the School Sisters of St. Francis at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, where she would sometimes attend Mass before driving to work. This practice continued after she and a coworker strongly spoke of marriage, but the advent of the Korean War and his enlistment ended this consideration.
“The School Sisters of St. Francis were not new to me because my dad had cousins in the community,” she recalled. “At the parish Masses, I met and continued to converse with Sister Diomeda Novak. She was always eager for girls and women to come to the community.”
After learning more about the lifestyle and experiencing the happy spirit at St. Joseph Center, Bev entered the community along with younger classmates. “The age difference did not bother me. I was used to interacting with people of different ages. I could help in areas like driving since I came with a license, knew the city, and was happy to be of service.” She felt affirmed and grateful for the opportunities given to her, even staying at Alverno two years until she completed her degree.
Nebraska required teachers to be degreed before working so Bev was missioned to a rural elementary/high school in that state. The school provided a truck and Bev, the only driver, delighted in transporting her sisters and needy others to necessary appointments, “letting my veil fly out the open window.” She loved teaching. “Discipline was never a problem, because I could use humor, not to humiliate but get a point across. The kids laughed but also got the message.”
In the mid-1960s, Bev was transferred to the large St. Matthias School in Milwaukee. Along with other religious faculty, Bev met musician Sister Bernadelle Mehmert. “Her presence with the local community, students, and parishioners exemplified what I thought a religious should be: prayerful, kind, patient, a person with high standards,” Bev said. “Her friendship and genuine love of service to others was a beautiful example of God’s love for all of us.”
Sister Bernadelle and Bev lived together for some time. She provided transportation, cleaned, cooked, and worked in the school, gradually realizing she was called to move from teaching to school administration. Bev achieved her master’s degree in 1971, finding the whole experience most meaningful and life giving.
“I was very comfortable being a principal, working with the lay people and various age groups,” she said. “My primary attitude was to make the staff’s job as comfortable as possible so they could achieve their teaching goals.” Younger teachers appreciated her encouraging them to be creative in the classroom and to be open to the changes in community occurring at that time.
In 1988, Bev felt the need to stretch into other areas of community service. “I love people and am very relational, but never felt a sense of entitlement or personal prestige.” These qualities assisted her when working for the congregation in Development, Informational Services, Alfons Gallery, Archives, and other departments. “I’m exceedingly grateful for all these experiences helping me to grow.”
Still interacting with long time lay friends and sisters, Bev recognizes and grapples with the increasing challenges of aging. She enjoys solitude with time for prayer, reflection, reading, music, and watching sports. She proclaims, “This time has been great grace. I’ve been so happy.”
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